From the January-February 2023 issue of News & Letters
by Buddy Bell
Graduate researchers and academic student employees of the University of California’s campuses ratified a labor contract on Dec. 23 after being on strike for six weeks. The strike delayed final exams and grading. The UC agreed to raise the starting nine-month salary of an academic student employee from $24,000 to $34,000, with a $2,500 cost of living upgrade for employees of the L.A. and San Francisco Bay campuses. The strike negotiators also won extra days of paid leave. However, student employees of other expensive city campuses, such as San Marcos, Irvine, Santa Barbara, or Santa Cruz, were not given the supplemental income. This is one reason that union leaders at some of those campuses advocated for a rejection of the contract. The bargaining team also was unable to get a cost-of-living adjustment. They have been criticized for allowing a provision that lets the UC fire or punish students who participate in any future wildcat strike or solidarity strike.
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Students at Benito Juarez Community Academy in Chicago walked out of class on Dec. 19 to protest gun violence. Two of their classmates had been fatally shot days earlier by an unknown gunman as the school dismissed for the afternoon. Another two students were wounded by a grazed bullet. The students released balloons, marched through the surrounding neighborhood, and created a vigil of candles and flowers.
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DACA recipients and other young activists affiliated with Phoenix-based organization “Aliento” made 60,000 phone calls and knocked on 4,000 doors to pass ballot measure 308 in Arizona. It repealed a 2006 law that ruled immigrant youth not eligible for in-state tuition, and made them eligible if they had attended high school and lived in Arizona for at least the previous two years. Out-of-state tuition in Arizona costs one and a half times the in-state tuition. Measure 308 also confers eligibility for state grants and scholarships. Some of the same activists had been working since 2018 to get the initiative on the ballot. Activist Jose Patiño told the Arizona Republic: “[In 2006], they tried to bury us…they didn’t know we were seeds. It took 16 years for us to sprout to be in this moment, but we’re here.”
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Another result of the 2022 election is that Pennsylvania Republicans will probably not be able to pass their proposed bill to raise the voting age to 21 in state and local elections.